Reaching out to the peripheries

By Jourdan Reynolds

The dog days of summer are upon us and activities in the church have slowed down as families are on vacation. The church, much like a school during the summer, seems quieter and more spacious. I find these times a respite to relax a little more and reflect upon the year so far and to look to the future. Recently, our staff has begun sharing our thoughts and ideas about the future initiative in the Diocese of Davenport, “Vision 20/20,” and the possible graces/gifts that could come from it. We all see persons, places and things in and around our parish that need extra attention, healing and repair. Each of us sees something different along the peripheries of our community that touches and tugs at our hearts, inviting us to share God’s love and joy. It is my hope that through this movement, we as the Diocese of Davenport are able to reach out to those forgotten or lost on the outskirts and to be the luminaries of Christ that brighten the darkness that affects them.

Reynolds

As I contemplated on those I notice on the peripheries, I reflected upon my days of Totus Tuus, where I spent a summer teaching Bible school for the Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph in Missouri. I eventually taught at seven different parishes for children ages 5 and older. I met persons from all different backgrounds, lifestyles and cultures, but in particular God called me to certain individuals who needed my friendship and guidance. Some had developmental disorders, others a poor self-image and still others simply didn’t have a friend to call on. My heart went out to these individuals, seeing them standing or sitting by themselves with no one to talk with. I made an effort to say hello and to welcome them to our summer program. I tried to include them in games and activities with other kids. I wanted them to feel unified with the group and never separated and, for the most part, I believe I was able to do so. I was able to give them the attention they needed while at the same time finding opportunities to share God’s love with the other campers.

During college, I found myself drawn to those on the peripheries who were suffering from lack of identity and pain of rejection. I, too suffered from these, and if it were not for the support of family, friends and above all God and his mother, Mary, who knows where I would be. Through my process of healing, I clung to the words of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and his literary work “Love and Responsibility.” Through these insights I came to love and hold in high esteem the church’s teaching on man, woman and God’s loving mission for them. I witnessed on the college campus how people would fall short, choosing worldly means to heal their broken hearts. Just as my heart went out to the lonely and forgotten child, my heart went out to the lonely and forgotten young person. On multiple occasions I found myself speaking one on one with friends and strangers alike, giving witness to God’s working grace in my life while helping them tofind avenues toward Christ’s healing and redemptive love.

It is my hope that during Vision 20/20, God will affirm further his will for my life. I have desires to possibly become a deacon and spiritual mentor if God wills it. Furthermore, it is my wish for you and all those of the diocese that God may reveal his desires clearly and boldly. May God grant you peace and serenity, always.

(Jourdan Reynolds is the secretary and bookkeeper at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa.)

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